Ryan Tubridy may have been grossly overpaid, but at least he was doing his job…

Congratulations are due to RTE for destroying the market value of one of their greatest assets. It is not as if RTE is overflowing with marketable talent.

It is not the role of an agent to ensure that RTE are following the requirements of their own internal audit department and indeed, their external auditors. Had the invoice read “for marketing services” as opposed to “for consultancy services” it would not even have been misleading.

Big companies like Renault frequently use external PR or marketing agencies to organise specific events. There was no reason for Noel Kelly to suppose that the instruction to invoice Astus was anything other than standard practice in RTE. Indeed, it was: RTE had three separate barter accounts to support numerous promotional and entertainment activities.

We also don’t know the full extent of RTE’s commercial arrangements with Renault of which the Ryan Tubridy payments were just a small part. Had RTE agreed to provide additional promotional activities in return for Renault becoming the Late Late Show title sponsor?

To describe Noel Kelly’s claim that he was merely following the RTE prescribed process as “the Nuremberg defence” is absurd as well as disrespectful to the millions of victims of Nazi atrocities. What else was he supposed to do, when his sole role was to ensure his client was paid sums previously agreed?

Not only was Ryan Tubridy paid considerably less than his predecessor, Pat Kenny, he took a 20% pay cut during Covid and declined a loyalty bonus of €120,000. That he, as an independent contractor, undertook to do additional work for Renault to be paid for separately was nobody’s business but his own and that of RTE and Renault. Let them account for that, rather than seeking to tarnish the reputation of Mr. Tubridy, who undertook to do the additional work in good faith.

Fintan O’Toole adds insult to injury by declaring that “Tubridy resorted to the Father Ted defence: the money was only resting in my account,” suggesting that Tubridy was embezzling monies that were never due to him. The fact is, he agreed to lead nine Late Late Show style events for Renault, six of which were delayed by the pandemic. Should Renault, or whoever succeeds them as Late Late show title sponsor, decide not to proceed with them, Tubridy has agreed to reimburse the sums paid. He cannot do fairer than that.

Whatever happens to Ryan Tubridy as an Irish broadcaster, it is very clear that several senior RTE executives attempted to mislead the public and then sought to shift the blame onto Mr. Tubridy and his agent. In doing so they did far greater harm to RTE’s reputation and standing than any dodgy expense accounting could ever do.

Ryan Tubridy may have been grossly overpaid, but at least he was doing his job, unlike the highly paid-senior executives at RTE. Sadly, the failure to take responsibility for mistakes made is the one constant in all aspects of Irish public life. It is RTE management which needs to be radically rationalised. Unless that happens, Ryan Tubridy would be well advised to take his talents elsewhere.


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